Gratitude Expressed for All at Tweener Gigo {Fishing} Camp

First Fishing Camp for Tribal Members

By Katie Halloran
Photos by NHBP Tribal Member and Photographer Johnathon Moulds

“We accomplished what we envisioned,” NHBP Food Sovereignty Coordinator and Tribal Member Nickole Keith said of the first “Tweener” Gigo {Fishing} Camp, held in August 2023 at Ferwerda’s Bass Lake Resort, LLC, in Pentwater, Michigan. “We had more than a handful of first-time anglers…A lot of smiles and new friendships were formed.”

Well-known throughout NHBP for her extensive Food Sovereignty work, Keith expertly put the pieces and the right people together to create the first Gigo Camp of this kind for NHBP Tribal Members. Two of NHBP’s Indigenous Lifeways Consultants and NHBP Tribal Members, Tyrone Rios and Darrel Day, delivered a food container to a Tribal Elder in Pentwater, Michigan, in May 2023, where they made a meaningful connection.

Keith recalled, “They ran into my office with a Ferwerda’s Bass Lake Resort brochure and said, ‘We have to set up a trip! We can take and teach our Members to fish! We can take whoever wants to go! Call Christen Ferwerda now!’”

A constant people-connector and problem-solver, Keith immediately called Ferwerda, and together, they started laying out plans for a weekend-long Fishing Camp.

“This was the first overnight trip I’ve planned since leaving the Membership Services Department, so I had to make a call with the trip experts in that department, (NHBP Tribal Members) Tiesha Williams and Grace Thompson,” said Keith.

Since they didn’t know how many Tribal Members would be interested, Keith and the team initially invited only “Tweeners,” those Tribal Members who are ages 19-49, between youth and Elder statuses. Later, the event’s registration expanded to include a guest for the Tweener. More than 20 people attended.

On the sunny Saturday of August 26, the NHBP “Tweeners” and their guests made the trek from Athens, Michigan, to the sandy beaches and calm respite of Ferwerda’s Bass Lake Resort, LLC.

NHBP Tribal Member and Resort Co-owner Christen Ferwerda, 52, with her husband, Kevin, run the 16-cabin Bass Lake Resort that offers a picturesque location and rental boats for fishing, both on its namesake lake and the “Big Lake,” Lake Michigan. Running the resort from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Ferwerdas see many resort regulars who come to enjoy their annual summer vacations at Bass Lake.
Ferwerda was grateful for the opportunity to host her fellow Tribal Members at their resort for such an uplifting, self-empowering event.

“Living so far away from the Rez in Pentwater, running a resort that’s hard to leave for months at a time, it can be difficult to attend Tribal events,” Ferwerda said. “It was nice to bring the Tribal Members here and to meet so many at once.”

Tribal Member Brianna Johnson, 29, had never been fishing before this trip.

“I caught one fish while I was there,” said Johnson, whose goals were to be able to bait her own hook and manage her own fishing line.

Currently taking classes at Kellogg Community College with plans to study Food Agriculture in the near future, Johnson wanted to learn this part of her Culture and to be able to provide herself with food. She had never been to the Pentwater area before the Fishing Camp this summer, and her best memory was taking her first boat trip out on the water.

“I went to cast my line, and my entire pole went right into the water with it!” she said. “We tried to get it out of the water, but it ended up sinking.”

Johnson plans on attending the Fishing Camp next year, with the goal of: “I want to catch more fish!”

Keith and Ferwerda confirmed the plans for a Fishing Camp in 2024, given how well everything went for this first-time experience.

Ferwerda thanked her family for their hospitality, “My 14-year-old son Jake was out there on the water and docks, helping and giving others advice on how to fish and the best times of day to fish,” said Ferwerda. “I want to thank my husband, Kevin, for all his work handling the boats so the Tribal Members could boat out to Lake Michigan from Bass Lake. He worked with everyone to explain how all the lures and devices worked.”

Keith’s heart brimmed over with gratitude to all who willingly gave to help make this weekend – and what it symbolized – a success.

She remarks on the NHBP Food Sovereignty Facebook page, “Kche Migwéch to Ferwerda’s Bass Lake Resort, LLC, for its amazing hospitality. I want to thank the Health Department for including Medical Assistant India Johnson to join.

“Thank you, NHBP leadership, for allowing Tribal Member employees to work and participate. The increase of participating staff increased our manpower and allowed less burnout on our Culture Department staff. We are truly blessed.”

“I want to thank all of our Members and guests who attended. From set up to cleanup, to assisting with cooking, with how well they left the cabins. I couldn’t ask for a better group.

Kche Migwéch to the Indigenous Lifeways Consultants and Tribal Members Darrell Day and Shawn Dougherty for giving us a gift that will last forever.”
For more photos of the trip, please visit here.

Stay tuned for details on the next Gigo {Fishing} Camp and other upcoming events for Tribal Members on Members Only and the NHBP Food Sovereignty Facebook page.

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